Updated: May 19
By Jennifer van der Toorn - So, there I sat, Monday morning at 6AM on a meditation cushion in the temple of Karuna Centre in Portugal. It’s the first meditation session of this week of silence. Still dark outside, tea lights are flickering, I smell the smoke of burning incense, Buddhist flags are hanging around me. It feels like I’m finding myself exactly at the right spot in my life. I found perfect joy.
There’s a Dutch saying. Don’t get rid of your old shoes before getting a new pair. Which means, don’t quit your job until you have found yourself a new one. Last year my husband answered that with “… well, in that case you’re going barefoot for a while.” So that’s what I did. This year is going to be my year. After a few years I got bored working as a video producer in Amsterdam, so I quit my job and I start focussing on my desires. One year of doing things that gives me joy. We’ll see what will happen by doing that. I realize that’s total luxury of course. And I’m super grateful I’m able to make this decision.
But let’s go back to my first joyful meditation session in Portugal. Well, that happy moment was temporary. A few hours later, at only the second meditation session, thoughts already changed. Man, oh man. My knees. They’re hurting so much. This can’t be good. This absolutely didn’t happen during my practise at home and this meditation, it’s taking ages. Why isn’t he banging the singing bowl? Is he not paying attention to his timer? We must be done by now. Right? And this is only the first day, we have only just got started. How am I going to manage this for another six days?
In the end, it’s not rocket science. You just sit and breath. It sounds so easy like that, but it takes some effort. I thought of it as a week of exercise for the mind. Wandering off again? Go back and sit and breath.
I probably can write a book about all the -most of the time hilarious - conversations with myself or my mind or the lessons I learned. But I would like to encourage other new practitioners to just go and take part in a silent retreat. Even if you only have 21 days off from work. When in our lives do we find ourselves in silence? Spend some of your time to just sit and practise meditation. Allow yourself to really get in touch with your senses and to get to know yourself. Because believe me, that’s what will happen.